Auggie Football Shows Strong Effort Against Bethel

Hayden Audette, sports editor 

The most important game in several years for the Augsburg football team lived up to the hype as the Auggies welcomed the 9th-ranked Bethel Royals to Edor Nelson Field on Saturday, Nov. 5. 

The winner of this game would finish in first place in the MIAC Skyline Division and head to Collegeville, MN the following week to take on Saint John’s in the conference championship game. 

On their opening possession of the game, Augsburg marched down the field and scored a touchdown after a drive that lasted over six minutes. A 22-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Cade Sheehan to sophomore wide receiver Braden Tretter gave the Auggies an early 7-0 lead. Bethel answered with their own long drive and a touchdown on a trick play. Royals wide receiver Aaron Ellingson connected with his fellow wide receiver Joey Kidder on a 25-yard pass to tie the game at 7-7 before the end of the first quarter. 

In the second quarter, Bethel took a 14-7 lead on Kidder’s second 25-yard touchdown reception of the afternoon, this time from his quarterback Jaran Roste. The Auggies countered later in the quarter with a two-yard touchdown run from Sheehan, which tied the game up at 14-14. The teams would enter the halftime break still tied, setting up for a classic finish in the second half. 

The Royals got the ball first in the third quarter, and they ended their drive with another touchdown — this one a 16-yard run from running back Bryce Kunkle. The Auggies would once again counter on their very next possession, capping off an over six-and-a-half minute drive with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Sheehan to sophomore wide receiver Dominic Smith that made the score 21-21. Bethel would retake the lead right before the end of the third quarter on another touchdown run from Kunkle that made the score 28-21 Royals with only one quarter left. 

There was only one possession that ended in points in the fourth quarter, but it was far from a boring finish to the game. After their defense came up with an interception, Bethel started a long drive that ate up almost seven minutes of game time. Another score would make it very difficult for Augsburg to come back. The Auggie defense had other ideas. With Bethel going for it on 4th down and 1 looking to put the game out of reach, the Auggies made a huge stop to give the offense one more chance. With 31 seconds left in the game, Sheehan scored his second rushing touchdown of the game to cut the Royals lead to 28-27. Rather than choose the safe route and kick an extra point to send the game to overtime, the Auggies set up to attempt a two-point conversion and try to win the game on one play. Sheehan’s pass was intercepted by the Royals’ Devin Williams, who ran the other way to score two points of his own, making the final score 30-27 Bethel. 

Although it was a heartbreaking end to the game for the Auggies, the players have a positive outlook on the game. Junior linebacker Marcus Santillana shared that he felt the team proved something even though the final play didn’t turn out in their favor. “I think we proved as a team how strong our trust is in each other, and how we can stay the course and believe we’re never out of a game,” Santillana said. Although they didn’t come away with the win, the Auggies did put up an incredible fight against one of the best teams in the country, which is a great sign for their future.